Mass Extinction

The best-documented large impact took place 65 million years ago, at the end of what is now called the Cretaceous period of geological history. This time in the history of life on Earth was marked by a mass extinction, in which more than half of the species on our planet died out. There are a dozen or more mass extinctions in the geological record, but this particular event (nicknamed the “great dying”) has always intrigued paleontologists because it marks the end of the dinosaur age. For tens of millions of years these great creatures had flourished and dominated. Then, they suddenly disappeared, and thereafter mammals began the development and diversification that ultimately led to all of us.

The object that collided with Earth at the end of the Cretaceous period struck a shallow sea in what is now the Yucatán peninsula of Mexico. Its mass must have been more than a trillion tons, determined from study of a worldwide layer of sediment deposited from the dust cloud that enveloped the planet after its impact. First identified in 1979, this sediment layer is rich in the rare metal iridium and other elements that are relatively abundant in asteroids and comets, but exceedingly rare in Earth’s crust. Even though it was diluted by the material that the explosion excavated from the surface of Earth, this cosmic component can still be identified. In addition, this layer of sediment contains many minerals characteristic of the temperatures and pressures of a gigantic explosion.

Q. According to paragraph 1, which of the following is true?

Select the Correct Answer:
There were just under 12 large-scale extinctions on Earth
The largest impact occurred about 65 million years ago
The geological record indicates that have been at least 12 mass extinctions
At the beginning of the Cretaceous period, a huge impact occurred


30 Reading Questions for TOEFL Prep - Group 3

navigate_before navigate_next